David Harbour can think of nothing “Stranger” than going full Method.
The “Stranger Things” star has previously spoken out on the merits of method acting, and in a recent interview with British GQ, Harbour assured that he is “very much trained in classical American method acting,” which doesn’t encourage taking the roles home with you.
“When I was younger — it’s so embarrassing — but I remember playing that famous Scottish King,” said Harbour, who played Macbeth onstage in college at Dartmouth in his early days. He said he remembers “being like, ‘I’m going to kill a cat’ or something: ‘I’m gonna go murder something to know what it feels like to murder.’ I didn’t actually do it, obviously. Not only is that stuff silly, it’s dangerous, and it actually doesn’t produce good work.”
The only exception to the rule, according to Harbour, is Daniel Day-Lewis’ performances.
“He’s an extraordinary actor who I’m captivated and fascinated by,” Harbour added. “[But] when he explains his process it sounds like nonsense to me.”
Regardless of his doubts about method acting, Harbour did shed 80 pounds between “Stranger Things” seasons to reprise his role of Sheriff Jim Hopper.
“I was about 270 [then], and when we shot [Season 4] I was around 190,” Harbour said, adding, “I don’t think I’ll ever do that again.”
The actor had to regain the weight for the upcoming Universal Pictures Santa Claus movie “Violent Night,” a process which Harbour says he will “never again” undergo. “The prosthetics are too good,” he joked.
The debate over method acting has extended from Jared Leto’s “Morbius” dedication to using a wheelchair to go to the restroom and scaring co-stars, to Jeremy Strong emotionally transforming into traumatized titan Kendall Roy for “Succession.” Other actors Mads Mikkelsen, Jon Bernthal, and Will Poulter have slammed the concept of method acting, with Mikkelsen calling the approach “insanity.”
“What if it’s a shit film — what do you think you achieved? Am I impressed that you didn’t drop character?” Mikkelsen formerly told British GQ. “You should have dropped it from the beginning! How do you prepare for a serial killer? You gonna spend two years checking it out?”
Of course, as with Harbour, Oscar winner Day-Lewis is a special case: “Daniel Day-Lewis is a great actor,” Mikkelsen said. “But it’s got nothing to do with this.”